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Liga MX Update: Club América is Club América

Henry Martin Club America Liga MX update Liguilla Mexico soccer

The 2018 Liga MX Apertura Liguilla is finally here. The quarterfinals stage brings us some intriguing matchups, but it is the same three teams that top the favorites list to win the Liga MX Apertura title: Club América, Tigres UANL and Cruz Azul.

Though Las Águilas looked shaky for a large portion of the late regular season, drawing four of their last seven Liga MX matches, the oddsmakers have the Mexican giants as the co-favorites to win the 2018 Apertura.

There are plenty of reasons to second-guess Las Águilas, but their record speaks for itself – they are the winningest team in Mexico for a reason. That’s why América is always held to a higher standard than most other teams. In the past, coach Miguel Herrera even said it is title or bust and he would voluntarily walk away from the team if they fail to reach their objective.

With a team deeper than that of years past and a historical edge over the rest, it’s no wonder why América tops nearly everybody’s favorites list.

Winter Tigers

Tigres UANL finds itself sharing top billing with Club América in the list of favorites to win the title but will have a tough matchup on their hands as they take on Pumas UNAM. It’s not exactly what Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti and his players wanted, but traditionally, Tigres has been able to get the best of UNAM in the Liguilla. In fact, both of these teams faced off as recently as the 2016 Liga MX Apertura quarterfinals where Tigres thumped Pumas by a 7-2 aggregate scoreline. Previously, both teams also clashed in the 2015 Apertura final, and Tigres also won that one, on penalties.

All in all, the holiday season has always been the best for Tigres. They’ve actually won each of the last three Liga MX Aperturas: 2015, 2016 and 2017. However, if you are superstitious, it is worth mentioning that a sixth seed has never won a Liga MX title. Tigres finished this regular season in sixth.

Cruz Azul marches on as one of the favorites

It comes as no surprise that Cruz Azul remains one of the three favorites to lift the trophy after finishing the regular season at the top of the league table. Pedro Caixinha’s men have been on cruise control during the last few weeks and even had the luxury of resting several of their star players ahead of the start of the playoffs.

Obviously, when it comes to Cruz Azul, it is worth mentioning that they haven’t won a league title since 1997. Moreover, in what many call the “curse of the superlíder,” finishing the regular season in first hasn’t always translated into Liguilla success in Liga MX. That said, Cruz Azul has shown effectiveness when finishing top of the standings. La Máquina have won the title in four of the eight tournaments in which they finished the regular season in first place.

At the moment, the only other major worry for Cruz Azul backers is their quarterfinals rival, Querétaro. Though the Gallos Blancos are on paper the weakest opponent in the Liguilla, they did manage to beat La Máquina 2-0 during Week 13. Essentially, Querétaro arrives to these playoffs with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Plus, who’s not a fan of a Cinderella story?

Monterrey can still regain some of its favoritism

Perhaps the most fascinating quarterfinals matchup is that between defending champion Santos Laguna and Monterrey. Very few thought Santos Laguna would even make it to the Liguilla after several of their star players left during the summer transfer window. But the Guerreros have shown time and time again that they flourish under their underdog status.

And underdog is exactly what they will be in the quarterfinals as they take on a Monterrey team that has been trending up in recent weeks. For large portions of this season, Monterrey was the absolute favorite to lift the trophy, but an injury crisis put Diego Alonso’s team in a tailspin that severely reduced its chances of winning the title.

Slowly but surely, however, the Rayados have been recovering their star players. One of those players is Rogelio Funes Mori, whose goalscoring prowess was sorely missed earlier in the season. For Funes Mori and Monterrey, it will be imperative they get on the scoresheet in their first leg at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer. Historically speaking, the Estadio Corona is a tough place to visit for Rayados, and with the second leg being played in said stadium, they’ll have no choice but to get a good result at home. If they manage to accomplish that, Monterrey is definitely one of the teams to watch going forward in these playoffs.

ODDS TO WIN 2018-19 LIGA MX

Odds as of November 28 at Bovada

  • Club América +250
  • Tigres UANL +250
  • Cruz Azul +300
  • Santos Laguna +550
  • Monterrey +550
  • Toluca +850
  • Pumas UNAM +1000
  • Querétaro +3300

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